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The Pulse: A Novel of Surviving the Collapse of the Grid Paperback – July 10, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 170 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Pulse Series

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

My favorite adventure stories have always been those that cast ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and predicaments their previous lives could not possibly prepare them for.  Although I sometimes enjoy reading works of fiction that involve larger than life characters with highly specialized training and superior fitness, skills and abilities, you won't find any fearless heroes of that kind in The Pulse. 
 
After experiencing first hand the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and living in the impact zone where the power grid was destroyed and stayed down for weeks, I often wondered what it would be like if that situation was much more widespread and long-lasting. If a solar flare or EMP attack took out electrical power and shut down most forms of communication and transportation in North America, the aftermath would be far worse than that of any hurricane and there would be no sudden influx of crews from neighboring states to work around the clock to rebuild the grid.  Grocery stores would soon be stripped bare and no delivery trucks would be running to replenish their stocks.  People would become desperate in short order, especially in large urban areas where the limited supplies available would be quickly consumed.  Far lesser events have shown that such desperation quickly strips away the thin veneer of civilization that keeps complex societies in order. Violence would become rampant, and law enforcement agencies would be overwhelmed and unable to protect the citizens of their jurisdictions.  Those who would survive such chaos would have to act on their own and act quickly to seek safe refuge. 
 
In The Pulse I chose to focus not on the technical aspects of the solar event or the subsequent rebuilding and reorganizing of civilization in the aftermath, but rather on the immediate concerns of two groups of characters.  Casey Drager and her roommate, Jessica, are college students at Tulane University, in New Orleans.  Casey's friend, Grant, an older graduate student who was living in the city after the devastation of Katrina, knows from experience that they have to get out and get out fast.  Casey's father, who is especially close to his only daughter after the loss of her mother in a car accident years before, is away on a short sailing vacation in the Caribbean with his brother when the pulse strikes.  Among islands a thousand miles from the U.S. mainland and suddenly cut off from all communication with his daughter, Artie is desperate to find out if she is okay. Like any father in such a predicament, Artie Drager will do everything in his power to find his daughter, but with no transportation back to North America faster than his brother's sailboat, he has no way of knowing if she will still be there when he finally reaches New Orleans.  Obstacles and dangers await both parties as they deal with their situations as best they can; and everyone involved has to quickly adapt to the new reality of a world without the safety net of technology and organized society.  

About the Author

Scott B. Williams is a sea kayaker, sailor, boat builder, and writer with a passion for exploring and outdoor adventures on land and sea. He has written seven non-fiction books prior to The Pulse, which is his first novel, and continues to write for magazines in addition to maintaining various blogs on boat building, sailing, and outdoor survival.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ulysses Press (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612430546
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612430546
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lori D. Ellison on June 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Just finished Scott B. Williams; novel The Pulse: A Novel of Surviving the Collapse of the Grid. While Williams is probably best known for his prepping/survival non-fiction (Bug Out, Bug Out Vehicles, Getting Out Alive and decades of solid writing for Sea Kayaker) he does a more than admirable job of wading into the fiction category.

Unlike other prepping/survival writers out there, Williams isn't exactly a zombie apocolypse kind of guy. The Pulse is fiction, but it holds true to Williams' even-keeled teachings. His characters are down to earth. Some may have some specialized experiences, or have acquired useful knowledge, but other are struggling to learn as they go. They have old aluminum canoes and basic camping gear. No one espcapes in a Humvee, wears tactical gear, lives in a fortified compound, or carries an assault weapon. Williams' story is entertaining and his messages are clear: preparation is critical; you can be prepared without spending a fortune; knowledge and skill are more important than brawn and gadgetry. Even if you don't think of yourself as a prepper, The Pulse is a fun read -- and you'll learn a lot without even realizing it.

And for those of us who remember 1989 when a solar flare knocked out portions of the grid in Canada (leaving millions of people without power) The Pulse will stir up some ghosts.
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A relevant topic nicely interleaved with accurate and reasoned information about survival and sailing in an enjoyable novel. A fun and informative read by a writer who now proves he can write fiction as well as informational books. Scott weaves in the thinking processes behind decisions the characters are making regarding their survival...all of which are helpful to those who may have to follow these footsteps sometime in the future. This is Scott's first novel and it comes together well to provide a tale in which to see more clearly the usefulness of many of the suggestions he makes in his prior Bug Out and similar writings. There are nuggets of information interwoven in the pages that one learns without this being a text. Of course, being the owner of a 36' Wharram catamaran and living on an island I particularly enjoyed the book...and because it is nice to read a novel that addresses sailing that is accurate! A well-written novel by someone who knows the details not just from library research but from first-hand adventuring experience. I hope he writes a sequel.
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As a woman interested in survivalism, I'm pretty used to the boy's club surrounding the culture. Nonetheless, I had high hopes for THE PULSE as it claimed to be about a daughter trying to flee the city, survive on her, and reconnect with her father. Yay, a female protagonist! Or so I thought. In truth, the main character Casey has absolutely NO agency, intelligence, survival skills, or any redeeming character trait whatsoever. She quickly meets up with a male co-ed who has all of those things in abundance, and then proceeds to lead her and her even more daft (if you can believe it) roommate out on an adventure, where he quickly takes center stage. The entire time, he explains very simple concepts even a child - let alone a 20 year old woman - would understand as if she was mentally disabled and/or 4 year's old. He gets to do ALL of the exciting fun stuff and she merely comes along as "pretty bait" for the rapists. She had no voice or agency whatsoever. She doesn't do anything remotely interesting or useful, except to fluff his ego by repeatedly exclaiming sentiments along the lines of "gosh what would we ever do without a nice strong man around to save us! Oh help! Oh no!" She's reminiscent of a helpful Victorian heroine whose only asset is her good looks. Blegh. On top of that, the second parallel story line with the father was extremely slow and boring. You can clearly see the difference b/t the male and female characters however, because the father, another useless city dweller, actually get to do fun things, learn some new skills, and grow as a character. His daughter, however, just goes along for the ride. The whole thing is pretty disappointing.
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Though I direct a university press, teach creative writing at the university level, and have authored over thirty books of my own, I confess a fondness for post-apocalyptic fiction. (I know: I'm supposed to be above this.) I must tell you that in terms of the writing, the technical details, and the editing, THE PULSE is the best example of this sort of fiction that you are likely ever to encounter.

Pay no attention to some of the vacuous negative reviews about this book: The lamentable thing about the Internet is that it has made it possible for people who have rarely entertained an original thought to post their opinions as if they.
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This book has an interesting premise. The author clearly has a solid understanding of sailing, and knows something about bicycling too. What he doesn't understand a lot about is writing a well-told story. The amount of telling is appalling. It's repetitive and the point of view jumps from character to character.

I specifically purchased The Pulse based on the good reviews and because it had not been self-published, since my experiences with SP books have been poor. Unfortunately, this book seems unedited.

I had to go back and make sure Ulysses Press wasn't a vanity press. It seems it isn't. Perhaps the problem lies in the submission guidelines, where Ulysses says they don't accept fiction. They do handle disaster survival books, and I guess that's why they took this on. But their inexperience in the genre shows.
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